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Will TransCanada's Cloddishness Kill Keystone?

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I've been working to fight the proposed Keystone XL pipeline for four years (one for Tom Steyer). But if I step back from the work for any one organization or person, I have to say that if President Obama rejects this boondoggle, we will all owe a thank-you note to TransCanada and the tar sands lobby for the cloddish way they have tried to push this dirty oil pipeline through.

Over the years, I've noticed that when powerful polluter lobbies start getting desperate about something they want, they often slip into a hamhandedness in their rhetoric and actions. It hurts their cause, but they just can't seem to help themselves.

When it comes to the tar sands lobby, it's hard to pinpoint when this quality first started to surface. Maybe it was Prime Minister Harper saying he "wouldn't take 'no' for an answer" from our president, who actually does have the final say. Or when Mr. Harper suggested he'll wait out President Obama for a more favorable decision from a successor.

There was also Alberta Premier Alison Redford -- she of the lavish lifestyle -- who disrespected the president's June climate test for Keystone XL by calling the need to offset its massive carbon footprint of 50-57 coal plants a "game of chicken."

Canadian ambassador Gary Doer helped things along by warning us that a principle-based rejection of Keystone XL by President Obama will "definitely strain" our relations with his country. How's that for diplomacy?

Then there were the hyperbolic job claims from the across the tar sands lobby. Mapping them here, you can see the many people -- particularly the president -- are skeptical of the pipeline's job creation potential.

And we shouldn't forget the laughable sleight of hand from TransCanada CEO Russ Girling. When the truth of his company's claims of Keystone bringing "energy from a trusted ally" were questioned, he reassured us: "Not a chance. Not in my lifetime... I have talked to every one of our customers, both producers and refiners, I've asked them the question again -- do you have any intent of shipping any of this crude oil offshore and the answer is absolutely not." Um, of course the crude is staying here. It's is going to be piped to refineries for refining at export facilities on the Gulf Coast -- from where it will be... exported.

The most recent kicker is TransCanada Executive Vice-President and President of Development, Alexander Pourbaix telling us that this filthy tar sands oil is just like the other types of oil -- "oil is oil." That's ridiculous. This isn't oil. It's tar diluted with highly toxic chemicals to form a highly corrosive brew that increases the likelihood of pipeline leaks. And, once it spills, it's very difficult to clean, as people in as people in Arkansas, Michigan and North Dakota can tell you. It's pretty clear that the tar sands lobby has convinced itself that Americans are a bunch of pushovers and suckers, and that acting like a bunch of blowhards is a winning strategy. But it's not. No matter how many lobbyists you hire or how much propaganda you push, this is our president's decision to make.

The best thing for you to do is to stop skating around the question of how much of Keystone's oil, once refined, will stay here. Answer it definitively -- under oath -- and take the decision you get like a bunch of grown-ups.

If you take a pass, then accept my thanks. There's no way we'll have been able to do it without you.